Mars Helicopter: Why NASA Is Sending A Helicopter To The Red Planet
12 May, 2018, 23:14 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
The Mars 2020 rover will have a mission of its own - including seeking signs of life for two years and using instruments to help NASA learn more about how to safely land humans there.
NASA hopes to launch the prototype to Mars with the agency's 2020 rover, which is created to hunt for signs of past life on the red planet.
The 'helicopter, which is actually a small unmanned rotorcraft's debut will mark the first time a "heavier-than-air vehicle" is flown on the red planet, according to The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's website, Reuters reported.
"NASA has a proud history of firsts", NASA's administrator, Jim Bridenstine, said in a statement. But before the helicopter can fly at Mars it has to get there.
The remote Mars Helicopter, created to carry flight in the thin Martian setting with twin counter-rotating bladesthat weighs about four pounds (1.8 kilograms), with a fuselage the size of a softball, NASA explained.
Under development at JPL since August 2013, the Mars Helicopter uses electrically-driven counter-rotating blades specially created to handle the thin Martian air thanks to their wide span and rotation of 3,000 rpm, which is 10 times faster than their Earth counterparts.
The aerial vehicle will come equipped with solar panels that will recharge its lithium-ion batteries and a heating unit to allow it to survive the Martian nights. The air pressure at the planet's surface is lower than it is at a helicopter's maximum altitude when flying above Earth.
"The real challenge is that the Martian atmosphere is very thin-about 1 percent of Earth's atmosphere-which means that it's not going to look like your typical drone in your backyard", Farley said.
The helicopter will ride to Mars attached to the rover's belly pan, officials said.
After the helicopter is placed on the ground the rover will be directed to drive to a safe distance to relay commands. Controllers on the planet will control the helicopter to shoot its initial autonomous airport after its batteries have been charged and evaluations are all ran, NASA explained. The full 30-day flight test campaign will include up to five flights of incrementally farther flight distances.
But JPL has made sure that the Mars Helicopter has everything it needs to courageous the rough environment on the Red Planet.
Mars 2020 is slated to launch in July of that year on United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and the mission should arrive at Mars in February 2021. It will also climb to 10 feet (3 m) and hover for about 30 seconds. "With the added dimension of a bird's-eye view from a 'marscopter, ' we can only imagine what future missions will achieve".
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